Friday, January 4, 2013

A Bolt From The Blue

Ah, hello my lovelies! It feels like I haven't written a post on here forever. I love the holidays, but they always throw me off into this weird nebulous space where time is passing but I can't really sense that it is and I wake up one morning and realize, "Hey, it's 2013... where the heck did 2012 go?" And then I feel very terrified about life for about a half-second before I remember that I'm only 22 and I should chill out and read Thor comics and not worry about things for a few weeks. At least until classes start up again.

I've got an entire list of posts to write about for ye olde blog but I've been struggling to come up with one to focus on. Seriously, I've got a whole smattering of ideas that seemed all organized a few weeks ago but now I'm looking at it and going:
Not to mention I've still got visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in my brain and whatnot. So, we're going to jump back in with a post I intended to write before I waltzed off to Denver (which clearly didn't happen) but have been hesitant to write because it could easily go into some outlandish over-dramatic arena of sappiness. However, I will strive my best to avoid the feared overly sentimental vibe as I rather like the idea behind it. And it has somewhat to do with a very lovely book....
I had this epiphany while rereading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green shortly before Christmas. If you are a living breathing organism, I highly recommend that you read this book. It's wonderfully written, it's a moving story, it's written by a Hoosier (look, I was born and spent eleven years of my life in Indiana. Hoosier authors rock my world). There are many epiphanies to be had whilst reading this book because it's that rare magical book that seems a bit like it swallowed poetry and philosophy and emerged with this amazing, magical representation of life that sounds amazingly elegant but also reads like a teen novel. I'm kind of a fan, needless to say.

Anyway, I had a very specific epiphany, around page 240, to be exact. Every once in a while I have a moment of realization. And it is scary as shit. I'm reading this passage:
"You know," he said after a while, "it's kids' stuff, but I always thought my obituary would be in all the newspapers, that I'd have a story worth telling. I always had this secret suspicion that I was special."
"You are," I said.
"You know what I mean though," he said. (Green 240)
This book, in really short, totally glossing over many important details and the fact that the scope of this book is really far more intricate than a really sort sentence summary can provide, is narrated in first person by Hazel, who is speaking with her friend/ (SPOILERS) boyfriend Gus/Augustus Waters. They both have cancer and are talking about dying. Augustus feels like he hasn't done enough in his life and is worried about dying with nothing greater having been gained. Augustus speaks to me on a truly spiritual level here and I have to say - and I don't say this about many people - but I'm pretty sure I would marry Augustus Waters. I can't really explain why. It's something to do with the spiritual level thing. Because the sheer obvious recognition and empathy I felt when reading this is pretty staggering.

Sometimes, I think it's the really blatantly obvious things about live and about ourselves that are hard to see. While reading about Augustus' fears of his life not being meaningful and not being special, I realized, Holy fishsticks Batman... Those are my worries. I want to be special. Or at least feel special.

This is nothing new. I imagine this is a pretty general consensus in humanity - we want to feel special. We want to know that we matter. However, it hit me in a way I hadn't really thought about before. Because I've been talking to a friend about a lot of relationship stuff recently, I have been thinking about crazy stupid love (the actual thing, not the film). I am fortunate enough to have friends and followers that make me feel incredibly special, which is a magical, wonderful thing, so I shouldn't have anything to worry about, right?

Except... not quite. Though it makes me feel like an ungrateful jerk, I still long for something more. Maybe it's partly due to the possible existence of never feeling good enough that I feel tends to linger in the darker bits of my brain. But it's also due to the strong distinctions made between what one gains from friendship and what one gains from romance. I am doing quite well in the friend department. Romance department? Not so much.
Generally, I kind of enjoy being single. However, when the holidays roll around and the emphasis on romantic partnership our society adores is thrown in our faces ("Who will you be kissing under the mistletoe? Who will you be kissing as the clock strikes midnight on New Years?") it's a little hard not to get A) Jealous, B) Resentful, C) Tell everyone you don't care and love being single, D) Slightly hostile, E) A little bit sad or some mixture of all of the above. This is how I react at least. I really don't mind being single. Except when I realize how society treats single people and how I myself harbor a love-hate relationship about being single.

See why I was concerned about this getting too sentimental and sappy? I don't want to write like I'm lamenting being single or harboring a pity brigade for my singleness. However, considering the fact that I both want a boyfriend and don't want a boyfriend... yeah, it's kind of hard to do this. So let's just accept that I've failed and am acting in a hypocritical position, because that will make this a lot easier to write.

Back to The Fault in Our Stars. My epiphany was only beginning to take shape but it really hit me when I read just a bit further on:
I was so frustrated with him. "I just want to be enough for you, but I never can be. This can never be enough for you. But this is all you get. You get me, and your family, and this world. This is your life. I'm sorry if it sucks. But you're not going to be the first man on Mars, and you're not going to be an NBA star, and you're not going to hunt Nazis." (Green 241). 
Aside from the super strong Third Star flashbacks this was giving me (why must you do this to me, great texts that I love? You all unknowingly relate and reference each other and I don't understand how this continues to happen...) I thought this was a pretty accurate summation of why I'm screwed. In Augustus' case, he wants to perform some amazing feat to be special, but he can't. Hazel is rather upset that she's not enough for him to feel special, which is terribly sad. In this case, I am a bit like Augustus. I have all these great things going for me, but they aren't enough. While I am concerned about doing something special, I'm also concerned with feeling special. And it's here that we go back to a topic I discuss all the time (sometimes with unwilling parties; sorry, Kevin :P) - fangirling.

Because, as it has been and shall be forever more, amen, fangirling is a very nebulous category of... nebulousness, a brief reminder that I can only pull from my own personal experiences here and can only discuss my own fangirling behavior and don't intend to make any assumptions about fan behavior as a whole. The thing about fangirling for me is that it makes me feel really special. I feel like I belong to a group that's really, really passionate about something and really, really passionate about the people who help create it. Connected to this, but also sort of separate, is my intense love for various celebrities. As discussed here, 80% of my daydreams involve meeting celebrities. Why? Because, as I realized from empathizing with Augustus Waters, my interest/love in/for celebrities makes me feel special.

I don't know why this occurred to me while reading TFIOS. In my defense, I was rereading it, but this makes my brain sound very tangent filled (true) and perhaps a little disturbed (reads book about kids with cancer; thinks about personal affinity for loving celebrities). I'm going to attribute that to John Green's amazing ability to make characters super relate-able and not my own narcissism. Anyway, it was kind of like a punch in my brain as it's something I clearly realized and yet hadn't really thought about. I'm single, can't settle on how I feel about it, and thus distract myself with fanciful thoughts of meeting and (I admit) dating celebrities.*

*Tangent time or, some thoughts on how being a fangirl can be complicated: Another interesting realization I had about this while reading another John Green book, Paper Towns. I continue to have adverse reactions to people talking in great detail online about real people fan fics or their daydreams of celebrities. "What if" text posts, no, but longer, very detailed ones bother me. Why? Q from Paper Towns puts it like this when talking about prom: "So yes, like Ben, I harbored ridiculous prom fantasies. But at least I didn't say mine out loud" (Green 133). So while this probably makes me a colossal jerk for not talking about my daydreams and maybe subconsciously thinking I'm a better person for it, at least I now know why reading other people's online feels too intimate and awkward for me and why it's better to shrug one's shoulders and scroll on than sound like a judgmental asshole. Back to business...

While a psychoanalyst might read this as me compensating by for not having a boyfriend, I'd disagree. No matter what, I'd be fangirl. I wouldn't stop liking or admiring a celebrity because I had a boyfriend. However, there is an aspect of my fanning that perhaps does have something to do with my status in singledom. I've been curious why I'm more interested in celebrities I've never met than guys my own age, why I'm more interested in some celebrities than others (I am so, so sorry Channing Tatum fans, but I just don't get it. Give me knowledge in your ways, I beg of you, so that we may come to some sort of understanding), why I suddenly fall hardcore for a celeb when I find out they read Keats or go skydiving or play guitar or speak Greek, and even more so when I read quotes of them describing their life philosophies which I can highly relate to... I think that brings us back to Augustus Waters. Augustus Waters is a fictional character and I still feel a spiritual connection with him. Living in a status of fictionality is completely irrelevant when falling in love with someone (also, apparently fictionality isn't a word. But it should be). I likewise feel a spiritual connection with said actors and, thus, the liking of them and imaginings of meeting them and discussing our similarities makes me feel special. Because I've never met someone who romantically makes me feel special. Not like "I'm king of the world!" special, just... simply special.
Yep, we've reached that level of sentimentality I was so keen on avoiding, I'm sure. I don't feel it, I'm just laying out this strange thought processes I had that wasn't surprising but interesting, but I'm pretty sure this sounds way more sappy as a reader than it does as the writer. Also, I'm having a crap-ton of Augustus Waters feels right now so I think I'm going to have to stop here and go run on a treadmill while listening to indie rock and pretend I'm running outside (running through the snow is magical but I don't want to die on ice) and put aside my feels before they eat me alive. Hope you are all having a great start to your New Year! These hedgehogs are.

All citations from:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Dutton Books, 2012.
Paper Towns by John Green. Speak, 2008.

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